Panama kick-off their Copa America 2016 campaign against Bolivia at Camping World Stadium, Orlando on Monday.
Both Bolivia and Panama have a tough task to overcome in order to qualify for the knock-out stage of the competition. Argentina and defending Champions Chile are the hot favourites to qualify for the quarter-finals from Group D.
Panama reached the semi-finals of the Gold Cup for three consecutive years in the recent past and they were also the runner up in 2013. Panama hopes to recreate their Gold Cup success in Monday’s clash against Bolivia.
“We want to do things in a good way on the day of the match against Bolivia. We are doing things well. We are all good, we’re healthy. We want to impose our style and form. We hope that on the day of the match against Bolivia we can do that and more,’’ said Panama midfielder Armando Cooper.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Anibal Godoy has been in incredible form for his side in MlS this year and played a pivotal role in controlling the midfield. He is expected to pull things in Panama’s favour in Monday’s Copa America group stage encounter.
Another key player to keep an eye on would be Vancouver Whitecaps striker Blas Perez, who is considered to be the main goalscoring option for the Panama side.
Bolivia recently suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat against the United States in a warm up game for the Copa America. Bolivia advanced to the knock-out stage of the competition for the first time and was a runner up in 1997. Bolivia outplayed Ecuador 3-2 in last year’s Copa America, which was their first Copa America victory in 18 years.
With the likes of big guns Argentina and Chile also in Group D, the chances of recreating the 1963 Copa America title triumph success looks very meagre for Bolivia.
To make an impact in this edition of Copa America, Bolivia will place their hopes on playmaker Jhasmani Campos and experienced winger Juan Carlos Arce. The veteran winger has enough experience of playing abroad and also has a goal to his name against Panama in a friendly 3-1 defeat in 2011.
Possible XI: Penedo; Machado, Baloy, Miller, L. Henriquez; Cooper, Gomez, A. Henriquez, Quintero; Buitrago; Tejada.
Possible XI: Quinonez; Bejarano, Eguino, Zenteno, Gutierrez; Melean; Campos, Smedberg-Dalence, Saucedo, Veizaga; Arce.